Educating patients with chronic conditions about their medication therapy has always been important, but now with Covid-19 spreading, it has become essential.
That is because research has shown that people with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, are at greater risk from Covid-19.
The pharmacist’s role has always been significant in making patients aware of the importance of adhering to their medication regimen. But patients with chronic conditions must keep their disease under control during the pandemic. If they do not and become infected, the odds of becoming seriously ill from the virus increase greatly. People who have high blood pressure, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease succumb to Covid-19 two to three times more than the general population.
There appear to be several different reasons why patients skip their medications. Some don’t want to take it, while others forget. Those with little understanding of how the medication works and why they need to take it are more likely to skip it.
Pharmacists can counsel patients in person, over the phone, or by using printed material. Whatever method is used, pharmacists need to discuss the dosage instructions and why the medication is required. Other information pharmacists need to provide includes drug interactions and adverse effects.
The layout of the content is important. For example, written instructions should be geared toward individual patients, composed at a fifth to eighth-grade level, and displayed in large print for those with vision problems.
Visual aids can also be very effective in helping patients adhere to their medication regimen. One such graphic is a calendar with images and dosages of all the medications a patient is taking. Videos are another way of communicating with patients. Those who are taking drugs that are a little more difficult to administer, such as inhalers or injectables, can watch videos at home explaining how to take these types of medications.
Medication instructions also need to be printed in various languages to accommodate the large number of people in the United States who are not proficient in English. These are the people who are most at risk for medication errors. Studies have shown, for example, that more than 80 percent of Latino parents make dosing mistakes when giving medications to their children.
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